‘Do away with taboos surrounding menstruation’

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
• Some of the pupils at the durbar to mark Menstrual Hygiene Management Day at Tuobodom.

Mensuration, also known as periods or menses, is a woman's monthly bleeding.

When a woman menstruates, her body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina. Most menstrual periods last from three to five days.

When menstruations come regularly, it is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep the woman healthy and also prepares her body each month for pregnancy. 

A cycle is counted from the first day of  one period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens.

To help educate teenagers on menstruation and ensure that the wider populace see menstruation as a normal part of a woman’s life, the Sustainable Development Focus Limited (SUDEF), a non-governmental organisation, held a durbar at Tuobodom in the Techiman North District of the Brong Ahafo Region to mark this year’s Global Menstrual Hygiene Management Day (GMHMD). 

Marked on May 28, more than 145 organisations from all over the world came together to celebrate the world’s first Menstrual Hygiene Day. The day is aimed at helping to break the silence around menstrual hygiene management (MHM). 

To observe the day in Ghana, the Chief Executive of  SUDEF, Mr John Baidoo, has advised the public to do away with the taboos surrounding menstruation to enable adolescent girls approach their parents for guidance.

He explained that certain taboos and beliefs, which prevent girls in their menses from performing certain domestic and religious duties, put fear in them.

Theme for the celebration

The Tuobodom durbar, which was marked on the theme: “Break the silence on menstruation; keep the girls at school”, brought together more than 300 female pupils from the Tuobodom Methodist Primary School, Presbyterian Primary School, Seventh-Day Adventist Primary School, Islamic Primary School and Roman Catholic Basic School.

The pupils who participated in the event marched through some principal streets of Tuobodom before converging on the St Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, where they were addressed by health practitioners and educationists, among others.

Mr Baidoo said, “There are some homes where when a girl is menstruating, she will be asked not to pray, touch the Bible, or even take part in cooking. All these beliefs put fear in our girls who cannot even approach their parents to discuss anything relating to menstruation.”

He added, “We have to accept menstruation as part of the biological system of our females”, adding “Some married men even don’t feel comfortable when their wives are menstruating.”

Role of parents and teachers

According to him, the issue of menstruation has not been handled with the seriousness it deserves. He therefore called on parents and teachers to explain the concept adequately to their pupils, especially the female students.

Additionally, Mr Baidoo cited what he described as a lot of ignorance “surrounding menstruation”, and stressed the need for intensive education on how to manage menstruation; not only hygienically but socially.

The Techiman North District Pre-School Coordinator, Ms Iris Agbemetsi, in her address, encouraged parents to educate their daughters on menstruation, and advised girls to develop good hygienic practices such as bathing at least twice a day when they menstruate.